Invasive plant found growing in Connecticut River

(WTNH) -– An invasive aquatic plant has been found growing in the Connecticut River. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection found hydrilla along Riverfront Park in Glastonbury.

Hydrilla is not native to the United States, and state environmental officials don’t know where it came from. It’s already been found in some bodies of water in Connecticut, including the Silvermine River and Coventry Lake.

Hydrilla is destructive. It can change the water habitat and kill off native plants. It’s something that many avid boaters know about.

“It’s a very aggressive water weed that once it manifests into an ecosystem, it can metastasize,” said Eric Meyers, who often takes his boat out in the Connecticut River.

Until recently, officials had only found it in a few water bodies in the state. They’re concerned that it’s now in the Connecticut River because it’ll be especially tough to manage there. The river is a popular place for boating, and there are places across the state where boaters can access the river. Boats can help spread hydrilla.

“It’s impossible to get rid of,” said Meyers. “Basically you can control it, at that point that’s the only thing you can do.”

Once hydrilla is in the water it’s very difficult to get rid of it completely, and that’s why boaters are asked to take steps to prevent it from spreading.

“We just recommend people come check their boats out at least once a week,” said Robert Pace, a dock attendant at Saybrook Point Marina in Old Saybrook.

State environmental officials recommend that boaters clean their boats well and drain any standing water before leaving a boat launch. This can help keep hydrilla from spreading. Owners are also concerned the invasive plant could harm their boats.

“It can foul up your running gear, get in your intakes, water. It can create a lot of destruction,” said Meyers.

Officials believe hydrilla has probably been in the Connecticut River for a few years now. Boaters hope it won’t keep spreading to other bodies of water.

“Mother Nature, you can’t stop it, you’ve just got to figure out solutions that are environmentally friendly,” said Meyers.

Hydrilla has been a major problem in the southeastern United States, and it’s beginning to spread across the northeast. Besides Connecticut, it’s also been found in Maine, New York and Massachusetts.

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